Real Baseball

Before television , the Atlanta Braves, or little league, baseball played an important part in the lives of southern boys growing up in the 1940’s. During the summer months while school was out, we met each morning about eight o’clock to “choose up” teams. We never had enough for two full teams but that didn’t seem to matter. We would play until about ten o’clock when it got too hot.

There was a young black man, about our age, who worked part time for one of the merchants in town. Black children attended school in the summer so they could be off during the fall to help harvest crops; but we convinced him to play out of school and play ball with us. His real name was Robert. We called him “Head”. I’m not sure why. He was a very good player and seemed to enjoy playing.

About the middle of the summer, we decided that we were good enough to form a team; but there were no other teams in the area to play. Head said there were some youngsters in his community who liked to play baseball and he thought he could get up a team to play us. So we made plans to have a “real” game the next Sunday on the town team’s main baseball field since they were playing out of town.

On the day of the game we could hardly wait to get started, but we had forgotten that in a “real” game you must have umpires. This was before integration. There were no white spectators at the game and only a couple of adult black men. We finally persuaded two black men to umpire and the game was under way! The white team easily won, but the black team challenged us to a return match on their field over behind the planing mill the next Sunday. We accepted.

There was a large crowd to watch the game. Again, no white spectators. Spirits were high and both teams played their hearts out, but this time the black team won.

Regardless of what some think, I believe that in baseball there is a definite home field advantage.